Students face lawsuits from RIAA

Christina Stavale

Ten Kent State students are facing lawsuits as a result of illegal online downloading.

In February, the Recording Industry Association of America launched a new campus anti-piracy initiative, giving college students caught downloading illegally a chance to settle the claims without a public mark on their name.

“We will now be sending pre-litigation settlement letters to schools, asking that administrators immediately forward the letters to the appropriate students,” said Steven Marks, general counsel and executive vice president of the RIAA, in an online chat in March to explain the new process. “If we hear back from a student within a set amount of time, we can reach a settlement in advance of a lawsuit ever being filed. This means the student gets a discounted settlement and avoids anything ever appearing on a public record.”

Cary Sherman, RIAA president, said the RIAA sends out around 400 of these letters each month. On April 11, they sent 19 of these letters to Kent State. Ten of the students who received letters did not settle the claims, and therefore must face the consequences in the form of a lawsuit.

The punishments for the lawsuits, Marks said, range from $750 to $150,000 per work infringed. A representative from RIAA said the earlier on in the process an individual settles, the smaller amount of money they will have to pay.

As far as who gets caught, it could happen to anyone. However, for the most part, individuals from schools with the highest number of offenders are more likely to be caught.

“If there are a lot of individual infringers at a particular school, it’s more likely that the infringers at that school will be sued, or at least receive our pre-lawsuit letter,” Sherman said. “The fewer infringers at a given school, the less likely infringers at that school will be sued.”

Kent State ranks 17th on the RIAA’s list of top college offenders. The students facing lawsuits are currently unknown, and will be identified by their university IP address.

Contact general assignment reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].